Violinist Joshua Bell: 'French Impressions,' Yesterday And Today | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Violinist Joshua Bell: 'French Impressions,' Yesterday And Today

Play associated audio

When Joshua Bell was 21, he recorded an iconic piece of chamber music for piano and violin — the Sonata in A major by Cesar Franck. Today, Bell is 44 and he's recorded it again. It's on his new album, French Impressions, with pianist Jeremy Denk.

All Things Considered host Robert Siegel invited Bell to listen to his old recording for a little session of compare-and-contrast.

"Do you hear the same violinist?" Siegel asks, after playing for Bell the opening bars of his 1989 recording.

"It's not as bad as I thought it was," Bell says. "But then my next impression is, I could have done a lot more here in this harmony, and I could have followed some of the instructions in the score a little bit better."

In other words, Bell hears major differences in his playing some 22 years ago.

"This music is very subtle. There are so many beautiful harmonies that, if you indulged in every one, you'd lose the scope," he says. "And yet some of the beauty of French music is that there are moments that you don't think about the overall structure and you enjoy the beauty of that moment."

What's the relationship like between Bell and a piece like the Franck Sonata, which he's continued to play for several decades?

"I'm still the same basic human being," he says, "but I feel I know the piece so much better. I've internalized it so much more — the way it's paced. Hopefully, I'm bringing out much more nuance and more color and things I've discovered in the piece since. You're a constant student, as a musician."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In A Remarkable Feat, 'Boyhood' Makes Time Visible

Boyhood is about a boy in Texas whose parents have separated. Filmed over 12 years, audiences watch him grow up — and his worldview evolve. The cumulative power of the movie is tremendous.
NPR

Spread Of Palm Oil Production Into Africa Threatens Great Apes

Palm oil growers are setting their sights on Africa as they amp up production. More than half of the land that's been set aside for plantations in Africa overlaps with ape habitats, researchers say.
WAMU 88.5

Democrats Push To Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling

Virginia's Tim Kaine and other Democrats are trying to overturn the ruling with legislation they say will protect female workers.
NPR

Friday Feline Fun: A Ranking Of The Most Famous Internet Cats

Forget the Forbes Celebrity 100. This is the Friskies 50 — the new definitive guide of the most influential cats on the Internet. The list is based on a measure of the cats' social media reach.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.